Acclaimed cellist Erik Friedlander announces May 26 release of uninhibited and joyous new album, She Sees, with group Sentinel following Parkinson’s Disease treatment last summer (Skipstone Records)

Skipstone Records is proud to announce the May 26, 2023 release of She Sees, an uninhibited and joyous new album by the resilient, visionary cellist Erik Friedlander and his “garage band for the 2020’s” Sentinel.

His fourth release since his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2016, the widely acclaimed Friedlander was at first able to control the associated tremors with drugs. Over time, the medication lost its potency, prompting Friedlander to undergo DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) surgery at NYU Langone last summer. This procedure, considered the largest breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease in the past 40 years, eliminated Friedlander’s tremors, which were the predominant side-effect of his diagnosis. “I feel like I’ve been given a special gift to continue on with composing and playing the cello without the tremors, which made me self-conscious and also made playing the cello difficult. It’s remarkable,” Friedlander reflected. He continues to be treated at NYU.

With a renewed resolve and optimism, Friedlander assembled Sentinel in Mexico City this January to record the follow up to their critically acclaimed self-titled debut. She Sees is the second Sentinel recording, and this time Friedlander imagined a sentinel on guard watching the world. “Like a goddess she sees everything but chooses to just be present and register it. She watches, cries, laughs, and is moved by some and saddened by others. She is there always and is, so far, not moved to action.” Friedlander was also inspired to expand his band for this recording. Sentinel’s first recording consisted of Erik Friedlander on cello, Ava Mendoza on guitar, and Diego Espinosa on percussion. She Sees marks the addition of bassist Stomu Takeishi, who was asked to join the band for this recording and is now a permanent member.

The album opens with a bang on “Baskets, Biscuits and Rain”, a genre-hybrid featuring an aggressive guitar sound and power chords mixed with elegant, playful cello lines. “Wit and Whimsy”, a short and biting appetizer follows, highlighting Friedlander’s composing chops. “Blink” has a funky guitar intro that gives way to a sly melody in the cello. These are just some highlights; each of the 10 pieces in this rich collection are memorable. The album tracks Friedlander’s restless mind as he creates a mix of genres that finally coalesce into a sound that is uniquely Sentinel’s.  

Sentinel’s sound takes on a new timbre with the addition of Takeishi. “Adding bass opened the music up and allowed us to explore the chemistry of the band, exchanging roles and playing in different formations,” shared Friedlander. “The first recording had a more chamber feel. This one is definitely a bigger, more explosive sound. Stomu and Diego’s formidable rhythm-section drove the band, allowed for a louder volume, and made it possible for Ava to turn up and bring a rock’n’roll energy to the music.” Stomu has toured internationally with various groups, from NYC to Finland’s Tampere Festival. A member of Myra Melford’s Crush Trio and trumpeter Cuong Vu’s group Vu-Tet, he has also played with such musicians as Henry Threadgill, Don Cherry, Randy Brecker, and Wynton Marsalis. 

Diego Espinosa is a versatile percussionist with an ability to play different kinds of music, convincing at every turn. “Whether it’s playing a groove like ‘Wit & Whimsy’ or a more jazzy tune like ‘Soak, Soak!’ he brings a fresh perspective, part percussionist, part drummer. He flavors the music with his own brand of spice, always tasteful, always fiery,” says Friedlander. Espinsoa has performed on five continents and has collaborated with artists such as Pierre Boulez, John Zorn and Steve Reich. He is the founder of The Electronic Hammer computer-percussion trio and Ear Massage percussion quartet, and is a popular soloist.

“Ava Mendoza is a most-modern guitar player who can read her ass off and brings that dirty, rock sensibility that is needed for this band’s music to work. I don’t want the guitar player to sound too smart; there should be a bluntness to the performance,” Friedlander says. “But nailing the parts is tough and making them her own is even tougher, and Ava accomplished this so adeptly.” Ava has toured throughout the U.S. and Europe and recorded/performed with leading musicians such as Nels Cline, Matana Roberts, John Zorn and Malcolm Mooney. She is the leader of art rock band Unnatural Ways, and is well known as a solo performer of her own music and works by contemporary composers.

A longtime veteran of New York City’s Downtown scene, Erik Friedlander is known for his prolific work as a bandleader having released 22 records under his own name and has appeared on 100s of cds as a sideman. Erik has been recording and touring with THE THROW quartet with Uri Caine, Mark Helias and Ches Smith. In 2022 they released their second album together, A Queens’ Firefly. Erik has written the score for “Thoroughbreds” now showing on HBO and recently completed the score for the feature film, “Baby Ruby” which will be released this year and stars Kit Harrington and Noémi Merlant.


  1. Baskets, Biscuits, Rain (2:50)
  2. Wit and Whimsy (1:57)
  3. Heatwave (6:02)
  4. Blink (3:40)
  5. Summit (6:27)
  6. Ache, Air (5:04)
  7. Sliding (5:55)
  8. Rush. Rush Slowly (5:46)
  9. Soak! Soak! (4:12)
  10. Moneycake: Corrupting (6:15)

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